Yifeng Wang

The Earth Won’t Stand Still Because I Missed That Kangaroo News

I love social media, and I still do. They pull the world closer to me. They keep me connected with my friends. They inform me in ways never before.

I have to, however, admit that regardless all these benefits that they give me, social media also have some side effects on me. On some days, they take me too much time. On other days, I’m afraid of missing out on what’s happening in the world as well as I’m afraid of missing out on what’s going on with my friends.1 But the worst part is that I’m afraid of all those unread counts: 100 new posts on Twitter and App.net, 70 unread items from the RSS feeds I subscribe to, and another 100 unread count from...insert another social site here. Those unread counts freak me out. They are like some tasks down the street waiting for me to accomplish. The moment when things become tasks is the moment when things become not fun any more.

So I guess it is time for me to do something about my fear. I didn’t find a good way to solve the problem until all of sudden, I realize that I don’t really need most of the information. The earth won’t stand still because I missed that kangaroo news. My friends’ life won’t be messed up because I missed one of their food photos on Instagram. The only thing that I might miss out because I stopped checking the news is probably the chance of missing out some precious real life moments because I’m too busy checking the news. Most of the time, news is irrelevant. This is it. Once I realized this simple truth, solutions are jumping out themselves. Here are things I’ve done so far:

  • Unfollow all the news accounts that I’m not interested in on Twitter.
  • Put people that I’m following on Twitter in different lists, so I don’t feel obligated to read all the unread tweets all at once.
  • Unsubscribe all the news feeds that I’m not interested in in my RSS reader.

These three things were pretty easily done yet they are now working great for me. Now whenever I refresh my RSS reader, no more hundreds of unread items waiting for me but a few things that I actually enjoy reading. So is my Twitter timeline. Nothing big has changed about App.net yet. But that's OK because I just no longer force myself to read everything.

Once again, checking social media becomes something that I’m happy and welling to do without causing me too many troubles.

  1. Update: Apparently, it’s already a thing, FOMO.